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Blank's Ultimate Toy Guide 2003
12.1.2003 by Dan, every Monday.

Many people ask me, “Dan, what's the square root of 1957.32?” I hate these people. I wish I knew where they came from. I may be forced to give them laughably absurd answers, such as 43.261. I know it's ugly, but sometimes a man just has to draw a line.

Another thing that completely different people ask me is “Dan, what toys do you recommend for Christmas?” This is another baffling question, as I have no idea why anyone would care what toys I think their kid should have. I also wonder how these people know my name, but I have found that I'm better off not knowing.

It is in an attempt to get these harried toy-shoppers off of my back that I write today's column, ”Blank's Ultimate Toy Guide 2003 Mark One.” The following toys have been carefully selected after exhaustively browsing the Internet for a total of fifteen minutes and watching a Nicktoons marathon on Thanksgiving Day. Bear in mind that these are all commercially available products. May God help us all.

First up is ”Operation Brain Surgery,” an innovative new toy that attempts to recreate the childlike wonderment of cranial surgery. This is based upon the original “Operation” game, in which young children rooted around in the innards of a patient under inadequate anesthesia removing random body parts for money. These kids learned the important lesson that if you were imprecise in removing, say, the heart, the patient's nose would light up and a loud buzzing sound would be heard. I believe that most of my doctors played this game. In this new “Brain Surgery” variant, children rip off the top off this fellow's head and root around the inside of his skull looking for various items. Maybe the premise of the game is that you left a stapler behind when you were trying to turn off that damned nose. Regardless, this poor bastard is once again awake as you grope his innards, even making zany comments as you rip out various lobes. Unfortunately, none are his speech center. Recommended for kids 8 and up, with the exception of that weird kid on the corner who “explores” dead animals with a pointed stick. He doesn't need any more encouragement.

Next we have ”The Polly Pocket Designer Mall,” which I include largely due to the jaw-dropper of a commercial used to advertise it. Two live-action tween girls in a live-action mall encounter a cartoon character on the escalator. Now, any normal human being thrust into such a situation would immediately turn and storm back to the Cinnabon and ask the counter drone just what he put in the milkshakes. These kids, however, are not normal. These kids are from the Advertising Dimension, a place where everybody always recommends products by their full names and always has one of the products conveniently on hand. An Advertising Dimension resident does not suggest Aspirin to the random passer-by with a headache- no, such a psychotic freak would be immediately bludgeoned to death by concerned citizens carrying The Club. An Advertising Dimension resident would suggest New Tri-Buffered Anacin With Time-Release Microcaplets, holding up a bottle with the label facing outwards, reciting statistics, ingredients, and the results of clinical trials in the same manner that a recent acquaintance might inform you of the name of her dog (sniffytoes). So it only makes sense that these girls would become excited at the sight of a poorly animated girl in a mall and, in reaction to the poorly animated shopping bags the girl is carrying, cry out in unison, “Polly, you scored!” “Shopping ROCKS!” replies the horrible large-eyed freak. Suddenly, a Macy Gray soundalike is croaking “Gotta Shop at Polly's Mall” while the non-animated girls are suddenly playing with a toy shopping mall. There is something horribly wrong at that Cinnabon, folks. Be warned.

The message is clear: Yes, girls, shopping is a great way to pass the time! Don't better yourself or use your intellect, just go shop for a cute sweater with the Magic Visa Cards that you never have to pay off! It's a wonderland of purchases! Buy, little consumer, buy! I'm not even going to get into the absurdity of going to the mall to buy a little toy mall. Recommended for those with no real future.

The third stop on our Toy Tour is baby dolls. No, I'm not offering a link for this one. If you don't know what a baby doll is, there is something physically wrong with your brain. Now call me a misanthrope if you will, my psychiatrist certainly does, but there is something about giving little girls toy babies of their own from the time they can crawl that just doesn't sit right with me. Seeing a three year old proudly refer to herself as “mommy” is not healthy behavior in my book. What are boys this age getting? Toy trucks and Legos. Why aren't boys getting “Lil' Daddy Overdrawn Checkbook and Third Mortgage Fun Kit?” Where is the Wage Slave Necktie! I demand equality in our brainwashing, dammit! Recommended for nobody.

And just so the grown-ups aren't left out of the toy fun, here's something that will be giving me nightmares for years to come. Due to a careless oversight on my part, I do not speak Japanese, but I'm pretty sure these are anime dress-up costumes, complete with masks. Yes, masks. Masks with the huge, empty, soulless eyes of the damned. Gaze upon their cold, terrible felt countenances. You can feel it. They're coming for you. They're reaching, REACHING TOWARD YOU, THEIR CLAMMY WOVEN SKIN ACHING FOR YOUR BLOOD, NAY! YOUR VERY SOUL!! WHY GOD, WHY??? AAAAIIIEEEEE!!! Recommended for anime cosplayers, perverts, and anyone else with severe emotional or personality disorders.

Next is a little something for the guys. Ever wish that Barbie and Victoria's Secret would collaborate on something? Wish no longer, for I here is Pinup Dolls, Barbie-style dolls in, well, lingerie. From the web site: “This doll is named 'Cute dolls poppin' up from PinUp! 60cm(24inch) tall 2kg weight doll, you can enjoy tender feeling and photogenic view :)” I do not care to speculate as to what they're trying to say with such phrases as “tender feeling” and “poppin' up,” but I think that between this and the anime costumes that we have ample justification for adding Japan to the "Axis of Evil™." I suggest that economic sanctions be imposed immediately after my order is processed and shipped. Proper research is the foundation of a good column, after all. Recommended for guys who are “between dates” and hard-up crash dummies.

I feel so dirty.

Finally, for all of you lovers out there, I give you Smittens. Admittedly there are not a toy per se, but how could I pass these up? These are mittens made so that chilly lovers can hold hands. These seem made with you Canadian folk in mind, since even indoors the average Canadian's blood is the consistency of a ”Slush Puppie.” The genius of this design is that it leaves one hand free per participant so that the wearer can beat himself (or herself) about the head for demeaning himself by wearing such a thing. Recommended for those really nauseatingly sweet couples and people who are chafed by real handcuffs.

And that wraps up my 2003 toy guide. Something for all of the dysfunctional wads of neuroses that your life and poor decisions have inflicted upon you. And if you feel that I have overlooked your particular gift need, well, what can I say? Merry Christmas.

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